The Steps to Achieving Your Goals

May 1, 2003 By    

In the first column in this series we addressed the importance of having a business plan and we outlined three basic elements of the plan:

Carl Hughes LP/Gas Magazine Columnist
Carl Hughes
LP/Gas Magazine Columnist
  • Taking stock of your company
  • Setting your goals
  • Creating the steps to take you through each

We then addressed how to take stock of your company by conducting an objective evaluation of your business. The third column was intended to help you establish a vision for your company and identify your goal-setting criteria.

For this last phase of the business planning process – creating the steps – we will be moving the company toward a shared direction.

This final part of the planning process is critical in that without a detailed plan of action, the chances of achieving the desired result will be slim. The definition of a goal without a plan is called a dream. We did some dreaming and visioning earlier, but now it’s time for action and that means the steps, details, and assignments. Without this final part, you’ll have very low odds of changing the old habits of your business and moving into the desired direction.

Action Steps
Action Steps

First, briefly consider and plan for the following issues for each goal:

Identify Resources Needed

  • Who should be involved and potential time required for each task
  • Operational and research data needed
  • Outside or specialized expertise needed
  • Financial issues/or capital required

Assign Accountability

  • For the development of each action plan
  • For the achievement of the action plan
  • For the measurement of the progress
  • Track and Measure your progress
  • Create a simple process to measure activity towards each goal along each step

Create a Timeline of Activity

  • Consider seasonal activities of the business
  • Give thought to the reasonableness of the timing of each step

Let’s take a look at a sample goal and its accompanying action plan. Our sample goal: Increase gallons delivered per bobtail by 20 percent for the next heating season.

Our hypothetical company has identified a significant weakness in its delivery process. Management believes there are too many trucks for the operation’s size, and that its delivery process is neither consistent nor efficient.

The primary responsibility for this goal is the operations manager, who will make assignments on each component of the goal. The team will be comprised of drivers, the dispatcher and an accountant. For the purposes of this goal, let’s assume the existing operating system is in place to support this objective.

The action plan outlined in the chart below assumes the business measures its operations on an annual heating cycle beginning in the fall. The plan would begin to be implemented and measured for the six key delivery months beginning October 2003 and ending March 2004. With the initial planning to begin on June 1, it appears the timeline for planning and preparation is more than adequate.

One of the benefits of this goal and action plan is that it requires no significant capital outlay, requires data available within the operations, requires no outside expertise to implement, and has the real possibility of achieving significant results.

Improving the bottom line

This goal is designed to improve the efficiencies of the operations, and ultimately improve the bottom line. If achieved, the company can downsize its fleet and reduce its total capital required to operate. Maintenance and operating expenses should also decline. The business will ultimately show a greater profit.

Those more operationally experienced in delivery methods and systems than myself will be able to poke holes in this action plan. However, the model stands as a simple example of how to involve all participants in creating the components of an action plan. The real plan within your company will be more realistic but will yield results.

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